Years after we thought the war against extremists was over and were regularly informed of our victory, it appears the fight is still ongoing. On Sunday, four police officers were slain during an attack on a police station in the Lakki Marwat neighbourhood, when militants besieged the building and killed four officers on duty, in a new series of attacks that has ripped apart law and order in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly in the former tribal areas.
Despite the fact that a group of roughly 60 police officers engaged the terrorists for nearly an hour, they were able to leave under the cover of darkness.
In yet another attack, militants have taken over the Counter Terrorism Department station in Bannu, kidnapping CTD officials and demanding a safe flight back to Afghanistan aboard an aircraft.
This demand lends credence to the claim that events in Afghanistan are linked to the recent spike in terrorism in KP, where at least 118 people have been killed in militant strikes since August of this year.
As this is being written, talks between Pakistani officials and the leadership of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are taking place in Afghanistan, according to a spokesperson for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, who confirmed that a jirga left for Afghanistan on Monday to negotiate with the TTP’s leadership. It should be noted that these attacks occurred in the midst of tensions at the Pak-Afghan Chaman border.
What is required today is a genuine discussion with Afghanistan’s present administration in order to establish an agreement on border security.
While this is not the ideal answer, Pakistan must now issue a clear ultimatum to the Afghan Taliban: they must act against TTP safe havens on Afghan soil if they want Pakistan to support them on the international scene and in other areas such as governance assistance offered by us.
The TTP’s announcement that it will end the ceasefire with the Pakistani government has resulted in an alarming spike in attacks. Pakistan’s counterterrorism forces must reposition themselves. We are fighting both domestic terror attacks and a belligerent border situation on the west, as well as the ever-present threat of India exploiting any instability on our soil.
Pakistan must respond accordingly, devise a strategy, and reactivate the National Action Plan.
There is no reason why the state cannot take on militancy using NACTA, a muscular foreign policy, a deliberate effort to avoid any appeasement of militancy (no ‘good’-‘bad’ Taliban dichotomy), and combining military-led efforts with a healthy input of counterterror civilian policies. Any inability to do so will simply be due to a lack of